Travel and Tourism

Legend has it that when, during the 16th century, Portuguese sailors first saw the island which is Taiwan, they were so impressed with its verdant beauty that they called it “Ilha Formosa”-the beautiful island.

Today, much of what they saw 400 years ago remains intact on this sub-tropical island located off the southeastern coast of China. Two-thirds of the island nation’s area of 36,000 square kilometers (14,400 square miles) is covered by forested mountains. More than 250 mountain peaks rise over 3,000 meters (9,840 feet), including Yushan (or Mount Jade), the highest mountain peak in northeast Asia at 3,952 meters (12,965 feet).

In addition to its numerous hiking trails, the mountainous terrain offers some of the best views anywhere in the world, such as the Sun Moon Lake, the breath-taking Taroko Gorge and the pre-dawn sea of clouds at Alishan, one of Taiwan’s 20 national parks and scenic areas. Then there are the spectacular coastlines in the northeast and the east, and the beautiful sandy beaches at the southern tip of the island.

After a day or more in the mountains, perhaps topped off with a hot spring bath, or after a long day at the beach, it is time to get back to one of the many cities that hardly seem to sleep.

When they came over to Taiwan en mass in 1949, mainlanders brought with them culinary skills from all over China. As a result, Taiwan boasts some of the best, and probably most varied-Chinese food in the world.

That is not all that Taiwan has to offer in terms of dining experience. Local Hakka and aboriginal cuisine has become more popular in recent years as interest in domestic culture grows. Numerous restaurants serving Thai, Burmese and other Southeast Asian dishes have sprung up, adding to the already rich variety of choices.

Be sure to visit the night markets of any major city to savor such unique delicacies as oyster omelets and calamari balls. These usually boisterous open-air markets are also the place to go for bargain hunters looking for cheap clothing or electronic goods.
For upscale products, head out to one of the department stores, where you can find anything from haute couture to state-of-the-art stereo components to the latest gadgets.

While in the capital city of Taipei, one of the must-dos for any visitor is a pilgrimage to the Palace Museum, which houses treasures that once belonged to the Chinese imperial household. And Taipei 101, the world’s tallest building currently in use at 510 meters (1,671 feet), and its surrounding area is the place to see what is most modern and fashionable in this city of 2.6 million residents.

Useful links:
The Bureau of Tourism
The Taipei City Government